Monday, June 13, 2005

Marijuana is not Medicine

The US Supreme Court recently rejected California's "medical marijuana" law. Some have argued that this oversteps states' right, others that it's insensitive to people who are suffering illness.

Idealists worried about federal meddling in local drug laws have years of regulations, case law, and precedent to fight. The federal government has been involved in regulating both legal and illegal drug use for more than a century. That involvement does not need to end.

The true ulterior motive behind "medical marijuana" laws is the surreptitious legalization of recreational drugs. The claim that marijuana smoke is the only substance that increases appetite for patients with AIDS or on chemotherapy is specious. Some claim a pill would be immediately regurgitated if swallowed without a bong hit. They conveniently overlook the success of inhalers and nebulizers to effectively administer medicines. The attempt to legalize pot on the backs of the terminally ill is crass.

I am a federalist, but I am also a conservative. Governments at the state and federal levels do have a role in regulating drug use.

I am also a libertarian. Those who want recreational drugs legalized should simply be honest about it and work to change state and federal laws. The government could license, tax and regulate recreational drugs with laws similar to those that apply to alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs. Drug manufacturers would turn illicit growers, traders and vendors into industry assets overnight. Drug companies would make the content and acquisition of recreational drugs safer; police, prisons and the courts would be able to better focus on fighting violent crime; and the profit motive would reduce potencies to the level of a smooth buzz, no more addictive or impairing than alcohol or nicotine. Recovery services such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous already exist to deal with substance abuse and dependency.

I don't use illegal recreational drugs, so I'm not motivated to be active in legalizing them other than to say I believe the rule of law is one of the most important aspects of our culture: as long as something is illegal, it should not be done. Breaking the law is not an acceptable tactic in changing the law.

No comments: